MAN­UAL v DCT SHIFT­ING TIMES

AFRICA TWIN Honda’s off-road fo­cused Dual Clutch Trans­mis­sion is a world first, but can it re­ally be bet­ter than a man­ual gear­box in con­di­tions like this?

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Big ad­ven­ture bikes work sur­pris­ingly well when there is grip, but take that grip away and man­ag­ing th­ese heavy­weights quickly be­comes hard work, mak­ing this a gen­uine test for the re­born Africa Twin it­self, in ad­di­tion to an­swer­ing the ques­tion of which is best – DCT or man­ual?

Start­ing on the man­ual bike I was quickly able to get up to speed thanks to the well bal­anced chas­sis and smooth, lin­ear power de­liv­ery. Hav­ing min­i­mal grip at the rear is some­thing you can man­age as a rider, but min­i­mal front end grip, which means the front is wash­ing out and hav­ing dif­fi­culty track­ing a straight line, is a big­ger chal­lenge. De­spite this, stood up on the pegs, one fin­ger feath­er­ing the light clutch, it was easy to stay in

con­trol of the big Africa Twin de­spite the con­di­tions.

Up­hill or down­hill it was pos­si­ble to find trac­tion, but I had to call on my pre­vi­ous tri­als rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of body po­si­tion, throt­tle and clutch con­trol to make the bike do what I in­tended. For any­thing tech­ni­cal I found my­self rid­ing with revs di­alled in whilst rid­ing/slip­ping the clutch to en­sure I had the con­nec­tion I wanted be­tween throt­tle and rear wheel – a ne­ces­sity in th­ese con­di­tions.

Af­ter an hour or so on the man­ual Honda I swapped to the DCT ver­sion. With the softer throt­tle map se­lected within the sport op­tion menu to suit the con­di­tions and the ‘Gravel’ but­ton ac­ti­vated – a sys­tem that uses a gyro to de­ter­mine up and down­hill gra­di­ents to en­sure the bike re­mains in the cor­rect gear – it would the­o­ret­i­cally give the right drive for climbs and a suit­able amount of en­gine brak­ing for de­scents.

Given the tech­ni­cal na­ture of the rid­ing caused by the poor con­di­tions, the ini­tial throt­tle de­lay be­tween twist­ing the grip and the power be­ing de­liv­ered to the rear wheel was ap­par­ent. But the hu­man body is a clever thing and within min­utes of rid­ing I was able to cal­i­brate my own brain and the de­lay be­came a sig­nif­i­cantly smaller is­sue.

One you get di­alled in, the throt­tle con­nec­tion is im­pres­sive. Full lock off-cam­ber turns can be achieved com­fort­ably and the bike has the huge ad­van­tage that it can­not be stalled. No mat­ter what you do the en­gine won’t

Best of Bri­tish con­di­tions for our African ad­ven­tur­ers

Deep mud, tight trails, and mas­sive grins The DCT uses a gyro to de­tect gra­di­ents Splash­down af­ter a per­fect DCT de­scent DCT is clever but it won’t do any­thing to stop you hav­ing fun

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